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A Special Thanks

We take a short break and issue a big thanks to all the folks who have helped make this podcast series a success.

Remember, though, we can always use your help in getting the word out. Please tell family, friends, colleagues, and congregants about our free educational service.

Victor Gill on Why There Isn’t an Episode This Week

Tony’s son, Victor, guest hosts this week’s show to explain why there isn’t a show this week. He explains that a new episode will air next week, though. Even Walter Cronkite needed a break!

Jonathan den Hartog on the Spiritual & Political Life of John Jay

With Independence Day quickly approaching, we once again take a look at the role of religion in shaping America’s Founding. Historian Jonathan den Hartog surveys the life, times, and influence of John Jay, one of the “forgotten Founding Fathers.” With a spiritual mix of French Prostantism and Anglicanism, we follow Jay through various phases of his life including his role during the struggle for independence, the tumultuous crafting of a new federal government, his time in public service, and his life in building civil society. Jay’s life provides a number of interesting insights that are still relevent for political and civic engagement today. Show off your impressive knowledge of this intriguing character at your Fourth of July celebration.

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Tony Carnes on A Journey through NYC Religions

Journalist Tony Carnes joins us to discuss his fascinating anthropological/documentary project wherein he is exploring every nook and cranny of New York City to find out what religious life is like in the big city. Literally walking the 6,400 some odd miles of NYC, he has discovered a spiritual world more vibrant than most outside observers would expect. Indeed, his ongoing project, which tracks the origins of various houses of worship, has discovered that Gotham is experiencing a religious rennaissance to the contrary expectations of secularization theory. Indeed, he challenges Harvey Cox’s notion of “the secular city” by proclaiming New York as a “postsecular city.” We talk in length about the origins of this project, which includes reflections on religious journalism and Tony’s own life, and some of his broader findings to date. This interview sets up a future interview that looks at some of the particulars of religious life in The Big Apple.

Research on Religion will now upload on Sunday mornings (Eastern Coast Time). Subscribe on iTunes and listen in while you do your weekend chores!

Podcasts on Pope Benedict XVI

Given the recent news about Pope Benedict XVI’s looming resignation, some of our listeners might enjoy two earlier podcasts: Margarita Mooney on Pope Benedict XVI and Cuba; and Jon M. Sweeney on The Pope Who Quit. Search under “Mooney” or “Sweeney” in our search engine above, or click [read more] below for the direct links.

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Corey Olsen on J.R.R. Tolkien, Religion, and The Hobbit

Just in time for the release of the much-anticipated movie “The Hobbit,” we explore the life, times, and writings of J.R.R. Tolkien with Prof. Corey Olsen (a.k.a. “The Tolkien Professor”). We go over how Corey became enchanted by Tolkien’s writings and what Christians can take away from this genre of fantasy writing. Prof. Olsen reviews Tolkien’s influences, his fascination with mythology, and his ongoing relationship with C.S. Lewis. The conversation then delves into several spiritual themes that can be found in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, namely the issues of providence, fate, and free will. This podcast is a great primer for those heading out to the theaters over the holiday season and will provide a richer viewing of Peter Jackson’s cinematic interpretation of this classic piece of literature.

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Stephen Barr on Quantum Physics, Religion, & the God Particle.

Does quantum physics make it easier to believe in God? And what is the deal with that “God particle” that physicists just discovered? Did we really discover God and the origins of the universe? These questions, and many more, are answered by a real-honest-to-goodness physicist Dr. Stephen M. Barr (University of Delaware). Our discussion is both fun and informative as Prof. Barr explains, in terms a layman can undestand, what quantum physics is and how it relates to faith. While Prof. Barr argues that quantum mechanics does not make it necessarily easier to believe in God, it does make it harder to subscribe to a philosophy known as “materialism,” which often underpins a number of arguments for atheism. We also reflect on what it is like being a religious believer in the secular academic world.

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Matt Boswell on Redemption Church, One Year Later

One year ago, we interviewed Pastor Matt Boswell who was part of a small team that created a church in one week’s time. We return to the scene of our initial interview to see what has changed over the course of the year. This is a fascinating interview that provides insights into how churches grow and change. We tackle a wide range of topics including how church’s maintain attendance and enthusiasm, why more people are getting married on water skis, what pastors learn from visiting other churches, why popcorn buckets may or may not be a good thing for collecting tithes, and Matt’s theory of pacifism. Plus, Tony reveals his biggest fear in church. Interested in how church’s operate? This podcast is for you!

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Lynita Newswander on Mormons in America

What role have Mormons played in shaping America’s national heritage? We examine that question in light of the increased scrutiny that the Latter Day Saints have come under with one of their members in contention for the US presidency. Lynita Newswander discusses her book “LDS in the USA” (co-authored with Lee Trepanier), talking about the difficulties Mormons have had in terms of social acceptance. Our conversation takes us through a range of topics including how Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith may affect his chances at being elected president.

Please share our free podcast with your friends and browse our archives for more interesting topics!

Sung Joon Jang on the Boy Scouts of America

Prof. Sung Joon Jang discusses his recent study on Eagle Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America, conducted by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion with Byron Johnson and Young Il-Kim. The report focused on the effect that Scouting has on developing the behavior and character of young men, particularly those who earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Prof. Jang details a list of pro-social behaviors that are associated with Eagle Scouts well into their adulthood and compares these traits with individuals who were in Scouting but never obtained Eagle and the general population. The results are fascinating and contain a few surprises. At the end of this podcast, Tony visits with Gene Sjoberg, one of his old buddies from his Scouting days, to discuss his experience being an Eagle. The interview closes with one of the most powerful and inspiring moments in the two year history of this podcast series. Don’t miss it.

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